To say that it has been a busy news month on all matters related to sleep would be a major understatement. Beginning with new reports on the long-term effects of sleep training a couple of weeks ago, there has been at least one major finding or study-related report every single day since. And it makes sense. The Centers for Disease Control deemed insufficient sleep a public health epidemic over a year ago. More and more researchers are looking at the topic of sleep, attempting to find ways to help us get more and informing us of what we’re facing if we don’t.
By far, one of the most interesting newly-reported studies has to do with sleep deprivation and one’s attractiveness to others. Back in 2010, British researchers photographed subjects when they were well rested, photographed them again when they had been deprived of sleep for 31 hours, and then asked untrained observers to rate the images in terms of attractiveness. Overwhelmingly, the sleep deprived people were consistently rated as unattractive. Publishing their findings in the British Medical Journal, the researchers stated that “Sleep deprived people are perceived as less attractive, less healthy and more tired compared with when they are well rested.” (Source: BBC News.) But as it turns out, there’s even more to this idea of attractiveness and sleep than even this study defined.
Just this month, Swedish researchers from Medical Institutet Karloinska in Stockholm reported that not only does the lack of sleep adversely affect our attractiveness, it also makes us less approachable. Reported in the Huffington Post, the experiment demonstrated that “sleeping four hours a night — or not at all — wouldn’t make any difference. In both cases the individuals tested in the experiment appeared to others as equally exhausted. But beyond appearance, the study reveals that lack of sleep repels those you meet or socialize with.” The notion of ‘approachability’ applies not only to possible romantic or sexual relationships but also to daily interaction at work or school. Across the board, the sleep deprived individuals seem to repel any type of social interaction.
While these findings may seem humorous at first (of course we hate being around grouchy, tired people), it has some far-reaching meaning. Without sleep, many of us may be missing out on chances and opportunities. Regardless of performance at work, the perception that someone is unapproachable may very well mean he or she is passed over for promotion. From a personal standpoint, too, it may be one reason why some feel unlovable or undesirable when seeking a relationship, platonic or sexual. Either way, this new study provides yet another great reason to catch some Zzzzs every night.
If you follow us on Facebook, you know that we have a lot of fun seeking out the silly unofficial holidays that seem to pop up every calendar day (hello, National Joke Day last Friday). One “awareness week” that recently hit our radar was Every Body Needs A Massage Week, which is observed this month. After a little research, it seems that there’s more substance to this than just the silly name we were bound to make light of.
No denying it, massage is expensive. With prices that range anywhere from $50 to hundreds of dollars for just a half-hour, historically massage has been viewed as a frivolous luxury that most of us just can’t justify. That being said, perceptions have changed over the past few years. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), 90% of survey respondents in 2011 stated that they “perceive[d] massage therapy as effective in reducing pain….” This percentage has grown exponentially just since 2009. Despite this acceptance of massage therapy as a beneficial treatment, the tough economy appears to be keeping people from heading to their massage therapists for even occasional treatments. In fact, 2011 saw a 30% reduction in trips to massage therapists, according to the AMTA, despite the fact that a growing number expressed a need for massage.
Boasting results like a reduction in lower back pain, arthritis pain management, and help with insomnia, most of us would benefit from regular massage therapy. Because it can be hard to add regular massages into a tight budget, we decided to scour the web, finding easy at-home massage techniques to share. They’re safe, beneficial, and best of all…free!
WebMD.com’s “Massage Therapy for Stress Relief and Much More” is an all-encompassing, vital step-by-step guide that explains how to easily apply gentle pressure and massage techniques to relieve tired, strained eyes, ease headaches and tension, soothe tired feet, and more. For example, WebMD explains that you can lessen a headache often by placing your thumbs gently on your temples while moving them in a circular motion.
Another excellent home-massage compendium is LiveStrong.com’s “How to Do Self-Massage,” featuring massage tips to relax shoulders, soothe feet and relax hands–an important area to stretch if you spend a lot of time typing.
While the title is maybe a bit misleading (a facelift is impossible through massage alone), care2.com’s article “Massage Yourself a Face-Lift” takes you step-by-step through a facial massage. Using a great skin oil (no, that’s not an oxymoron) like extra virgin olive oil as a moisturizing slip agent, do-it-yourself massages like this one can help soothe, relax, and rejuvenate.
Of course you don’t have to complete a structured series to feel the benefits of massage therapy. For those who wear high heels often, simply lacing the fingers of one hand through the toes and spreading them gently can reduce foot fatigue and that “pinched” feeling. For those with back pain, place three (or more) tennis balls on a carpeted floor, then lie down on them making sure the tennis balls are arranged near the source of the back pain. The rubbery balls give just enough so that they don’t hurt, yet the rigidity allows the back to stretch and relax.
With simple at-home, do-it-yourself massage techniques like these, you may find that you can stretch your dollar by seeking professional massage therapy less frequently. Why celebrate Every Body Deserves a Massage Week just one week out of the year? With a little practice, you can celebrate relaxation and comfort every single day.
Red-rimmed eyes, tissues strategically tucked in every pocket, a nose that puts Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to shame…it’s
spring allergy season. Most of us enjoyed a warmer-than-usual winter but we’re paying the price now with ultra-high pollen and mold spores in the atmosphere. Of course we all know there is no shortage of allergy medications on the market but they only alleviate the symptoms. You still wake up with the telltale signs–puffy eyes, purple under-eye circles and skin ruddiness. Let’s be honest, we all want to look better than we feel at times like these.
When it comes to allergy season beauty, the approach is three-pronged: prevent, treat and correct. Sound difficult? Never fear…we’re here to offer up easy tips and tricks to downplay the allergy/sinus look while you await fall (or the first freeze).
Step 1: Prevent
There are easy steps to prevent allergens, and many of these steps begin in the bedroom. Simply vacuuming your mattress and your carpeting is a perfect first line of defense against pollen spores. Washing your sheets regularly also helps to rid trapped allergens. If you’re still waking up puffy, sleep on two pillows instead of one. The slight elevation will help fluids drain from your face, meaning you’ll wake up less puffy.
Step 2: Treat
Allergy medication has come a long way in terms of treating symptoms with very few side effects (like medicine head). Talk to your doctor about allergy medications. As for treating the effects of allergies, moisturizing your face is vital. The friction created by using a tissue so often creates red, dry, painful chafing. Use a gentle oil-free (and preferably fragrance-free) moisturizer all over your face, then dab something extra emollient like Aquafor on irritated skin. Since lips also become chapped, Eos lip balms are excellent for both treating and preventing irritation. Red, itchy eyes can also be alleviated with an inexpensive over-the-counter eye drop. And do not forget to drink water. It helps to flush your body, ultimately keeping you hydrated one the inside and out.
Step 3: Correct
Despite all your best attempts to prevent and treat them, signs of allergies may still show themselves, especially in terms of beauty. For most men, this step is more difficult because it does require some camouflage by way of make-up but cosmetic products are very effective. While you might think those yellow concealers at the store look scary, they actually make a lot of sense. Yellow counteracts red, so a light application of a yellow cream or powder can actually neutralize that red nose. If eyes are red but not itchy or tearing, a nude-colored eyeliner can brighten eyes and conceal the telltale signs of allergies (skip this step if your eyes are watering or if you find yourself touching them often). Don’t do a full-on contoured eye, even if you’re headed to the office. Opt for a beige wash across the lid and a slightly shimmery (not glittery) shadow on the browbone. This visually opens your eye, making you look more awake and lifted. As for actual color cosmetics, choose nude or pink-ish tones. A pale pink or even coppery-pink shade of blush and lipstick can help enliven your face. For men, a lightly tinted moisturizer can be beneficial. Many of the latest forms of these moisturizers go on sheer, meaning men (and women) won’t have to worry about looking “made up.”
If Sleeping Beauty had a sister named Waking Beauty, it’s a sure bet there would be some sibling rivalry. It’s all well and good to look lovely while sleeping but it’s something altogether more magical when we awake looking good. Between the hair knots, facial creases and puffy eyes, most of us spend the greater part of our morning routine battling the effects of how we’ve slept. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Truly, a few easy steps before bed can have you looking your best the moment you finally submit to the alarm’s call. Ready to look better tomorrow morning? Read on because we’re here to help.
Bad Breath: Our mothers always told us to brush our teeth before bed, and you have probably heeded that advice throughout your lifetime. As it turns out, it’s probably not enough. A bedtime routine should include a three-pronged approach: flossing, brushing and mouthwash. Not one of the three steps can adequately remove and kill bacteria alone, and this bacteria causes both bad breath and cavities. Take that brushing a step further and you’ll have better breath in the a.m.
Facial Creases: When it comes to the ideal position for sleeping, your back is the best way to go. Between the weight of your head (7 to 9 pounds) and the friction caused by your pillowcase as you move during sleep, creases and wrinkles are bound to happen. Of course the creases go away within a few hours but the cumulative effect can lead to deep wrinkles. Your best bet is to try to train yourself to sleep on your back every single night. If you still find that you’re migrating onto your side or stomach, try a satin pillowcase. The slip factor of satin means less friction.
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Puffy Eyes and/or Face: Like facial creases, puffiness and bloating can be caused by sleep position. A bit of gravity helps fluids drain. Sleeping slightly elevated on your back is the best position. Try doubling your pillows, one on top of the other, for a good angle. A second culprit is diet. Dehydration, salt and carbohydrates can cause whole-body bloating. The MSN Living article “10 Ways to Wake Up Beautiful” explains that a dinner of rice, pasta or potatoes can lead to “carb face,” that pasty, bloated look the next morning. Of course salt causes the body to retain water, while drinking plenty of water helps flush your system for that coveted svelte look.
Breakouts: No matter what time you go to bed, wash your face before you turn in. You may be tempted to skip this step when you’re exhausted but that’s always a bad idea. With or without makeup, dirt, oil and toxins build up on your face throughout the day. Failing to remove this dirt leads to clogged pores. For a deep, relaxing clean, choose a cleansing brush. The Clarisonic is ideal but expensive. An effective but more economical choice is the Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System. Use your favorite cleanser and brush away the poor-clogging dirt and debris.
Dull Skin: Night is the perfect time to work a skincare treatment into your beauty regimen. If you’re feeling a little lackluster, try a sunless tanning cream. A gradual tanner like Coppertone Sunless Tanning Lotion goes on clear and builds gradually, which means you won’t stain your sheets with the formula and you won’t have to worry about fast-forming splotches. An AHA skin moisturizer like St. Ives Naturally Smooth Fruit AHA Complex Body Lotion also does wonders for uneven skin tone, light sun damage and breakouts.
Knotted, Dull Hair: Our mothers and grandmothers slept in soup cans and curlers to wake up with gorgeous hair. Thankfully hair tool technology has changed a bit; however, it’s still a good idea to take some beautifying steps before bed. Night is a great time to apply a deep moisturizing hair conditioner. You’ll have to wash it out the next morning, but your tresses will look silky and shiny. When you aren’t deep conditioning, make sure your hair is pulled up while you sleep. Buns and high ponytails keep locks knot-free. If you’re hoping for beachy waves, try braiding your hair in three or more plaits. Upon awaking, just shake out the braids and spritz some texturizing spray.
Rough Heels: Especially during warmer months, a nighttime foot treatment will lead to perfect sandal-ready feet the next morning. For a head start, slough dry skin and callouses with pumice stone or foot file immediately after an evening bath or shower. Apply an ultra-moisturizing foot cream like Sally Hansen Intensive Overnight Heel Repair Cream, then slip moisturized feet into lightweight cotton socks. By morning, feet will be soft and smooth.